top chef: texas “don’t be tardy for the dinner party”

It is unexpected to still see our cheftestants at the Rodeo of Shattered Dreams from last week at the start of this episode. And being that they’ve been there for a week, they are on edge, and probably anticipating even more heartbreak and despair. So when they see Padma walk out, they’re all like, “Forgetaboutit!” But instead of telling her little cheftestants that they have three minutes to prepare a five-course meal from picnic tables and their own clothing, Padma tells them they’re going to Dallas. And they’re super excited! Except they aren’t.

Cut to the one-on-one, where Beverly displays an exceptional understanding of the Dallas country music scene, as she believes that Dolly Parton is from Dallas. *facepalm* Oh Beverly!

Since the chefs are gonna be road trippin’ their way to Dallas in their TOYOTA SIENNAS, they have to pack and figure out the carpooling situation. We find out that in order to differentiate himself from Chris “I’m basically a Michael Voltaggio / Richard Blais spring roll. Except better.” Crary, Chris Jones has dubbed himself “Ugly Chris.” Aww, I like him better. And then Grayson sort of comforts Ugly Chris because he is uglier. But very nice.

And they’re off! On the road, we get some poignant snippets from Heather’s upcoming travel memoirs as she reminisces about the road trips her family used to take together when she was a child. Well, actually, she just talks about how her brother threw up on her. Several times. I hope it didn’t turn into this (Warning: gross):

And yes, I did choose the Dubstep version on purpose.

Still on the road, but now in Car Hot Chris, which, we come to find out, is also Car Assload of Tattoos, although Hot Chris maybe doesn’t have any tattoos…He used to be fat, though! So…there’s that.

Well, the cars are just going along all merrily, and then the chefs realize that the road ahead is blocked off, and that there is a Texas State Patrol car chilling there. Dakota is convinced that there’s a warrant out for her arrest in Texas (She just thinks of this now?!). But because he’s got bigger fish to fry than Dakota “I maybe didn’t pay a parking ticket one time” Weiss, the officer ignores Dakota and walks up to Heather’s car and says that he needs to see some licenses and some insurance right about now, which apparently they don’t have (Why not, Bravo? That sounds like a liability). Heather is so nervous that she vomits all over the officer. Jk jk. Actually, Heather is told to pull over, but instead she just keeps driving, off the road and into a plowed field because she sees Padma up ahead. I guess Padma’s beauty is THAT powerful. Heather was just hypnotized. I. Want. To. Go. To. There. Everyone gets out to stare at Padma and Some Guy John Besh. Hot Chris is in love with John Besh.

Aaand…it’s Quickfire time! They have to cook in the field using whatever they can find in the survival kits that are in the back of their TOYOTA SIENNAS. And they have 30 minutes to do so. I’m hoping that it’s all that gross powdery shit that you buy at REI for camping trips. Especially the scrambled eggs. Because those are disgusting. And I’m cold-hearted. Ugly Chris is all, “Fuck those TOYOTA SIENNAS, I’m gonna find me some field corn!” Which is admirable, except that that corn is for cows, and was harvested already. He does, however, manage to find a nice dry cob somewhere amongst the rubble. Yum!

So their survival kits are indeed stocked with various canned and powdered foods. Hah! Edward is confused. He apparently was expecting a collapsible deli counter with some beef short ribs and pork tenderloin, and various deli workers to assist him. Others are dismayed by the absence of knives and are just bashing away at cans. I’m sure this kind of thing happens to them ALL the time in their kitchens. Regardless, they have to stop their bitchin’ because time’s up! Here’s what everyone came up with:

UGLY CHRIS fried chicken on lemongrass noodles, hearts of palm, peanuts.

CHUY basmati rice, black-eyed peas, trout, shredded beef jerky, green chiles.

GRAYSON pickled herring, salad of hearts of palm, dates, herring juice.

LINDSAY french onion and celery soup, vienna sausage, saltine-cracker club sandwich with tuna and sardines.

TY-UMLAUT black pepper chicken stew with garbanzo beans, plain white rice.

SARAH dried beef, pineapple rice, apple sauce, hearts of palm.

HOT CHRIS spicy coconut-braised garbanzo beans, tofu, crab meat, lemon drink mix powder.

WHITNEY beer- and peach-glazed chicken, green bean casserole, chopped-up peach fruit roll-up.

ED thai peanut soup, salmon, tofu, fried hominy.

PAUL coffee-spiced pork and beans, basmati rice.

DAKOTA sweet and spicy noodles, crab meat, corn kernels, green chiles, pineapple juice.

HEATHER, NYESHA, and BEVERLY unknown.

BOTTOM: Whitney (yucky green beans), Dakota (too sweet, one-dimensional), and Hot Chris (under-seasoned).

TOP: Ed (everything worked well together), Lindsay (not as gross as John Besh anticipated), Chuy (made John Besh a “canned-trout believer”) Aaand…Lindsay wins. That’s amazing. Because it looked fucking disgusting.

Elimination Challenge time, suckas! What’s the dealio, you ask? Well, three rich neighbors are having a 12-person “Progressive Dinner Party,” which, as Hot Chris explains, means that there will be one course at each house. Meh. Ty-Umlaut’s all, “Puh-lease! I’ve cooked for Bill Gates!” Since apparently someone forgot the knife block, Padma takes it upon herself to assign teams based on where everyone is standing.

Team Appetizer: Ugly Chris, Paul, Whitney, Lindsay, Sarah

Team Entrée: Beverly, Chuy, Heather, Nyesha, Ty-Umlaut

Team Dessert: Dakota, Grayson, Hot Chris, Ed

So after settling in to their posh new Dallas pad, the chefs all go to their respective clients’ houses to figure out their dishes. And maybe steal some jewelry and silverware. House Appetizer is owned by Kim and Justin. Kim is apparently a “lifestyle and entertaining expert” (I guess that’s a thing). She has even written several books on the topic. Also, Kim wants everyone to know that she doesn’t like bell peppers, cilantro, or anything that will give anyone bad breath or get stuck in their teeth. For being an “expert” at partying or whatever, she seems pretty lame. But whatevs. House Entrée is owned by Kari and Troy, and apparently their house smells like money, which I’m assuming means cocaine. They are also picky eaters, and Chuy is annoyed. House Dessert is owned by Kameron and Court, and I’m not sure who is who. The tiny man says that he likes cake balls and bananas…He also really likes gummy bears. Ed is appalled. But those people seem nicer. At least they’re not bitching about how much they hate cilantro.

Hot Chris at House Dessert is quite concerned about his dish. He is using a recipe he knows, but has never tested. Ed goes on and on about a bowl of fudge.

Ugly Chris at House Appetizer is doing a dish that looks like a cigar. Paul is concerned that the cigar dish will not please the ladies. And Paul’s all about the ladies.

Over at House Entrée, there’s some tension between Nyesha and Beverly because Beverly tried to take Nyesha’s stuff. Or something. Heather also gets annoyed with Beverly. Apparently Beverly’s not so good at sharing. But she has no idea. Oh Beverly!

As the minutes tick by, many are second-guessing themselves, but that don’t matter, because time’s up fools!

UGLY CHRIS roasted chicken cigar, sweet corn, collard greens, sesame seeds, cumin ash. It is whimsical, and it seems like he has really been waiting for an opportunity to showcase his style since I know Moto does a similar dish, although possibly with different flavors.

SARAH grilled roman-style artichoke, date puree, pecans, fresh mint.

LINDSAY salad of roasted and raw beets, charred chickpeas, greek vinaigrette.

WHITNEY seared scallop, sweet corn puree, zucchini succotash.

PAUL fried brussel sprouts, grilled prosciutto, madras-spiced crème fraiche.

As they are eating the appetizers, Kim and Gail start chatting about their respective weddings. Kim apparently had 1,200 people at hers. What the what?! I guess that’s how an entertaining expert rolls. The cigar dish is dry, and the ladies don’t like it. Kim calls it “daunting,” which doesn’t make sense, but I’m no expert. Sarah’s artichoke fares better with both Gail and Kim. Lindsay’s beets go over well with some, but less well with others. Paul’s brussel sprouts were a hit with the ladies. And Paul’s all about the ladies!

At House Entrée, Chuy is freaking because his salmon is overcooked. And his cheese is weird. Ruh-roh! On the other side of the room, Ty-Umlaut and Heather hold hands and sing Kumbaya. But Ty-Umlaut is worried about his presentation.

HEATHER garlic- and rosemary-grilled lambchops, garbanzo beans, mint chimichurri.

CHUY goat-cheese-stuffed sockeye salmon fillet, cherry tomato relish, avocado.

BEVERLY pan-seared diver scallop, creamy polenta, crispy garlic.

TY-UMLAUT grilled pork tenderloin, summer slaw, guacamole.

NYESHA roasted fillet of beef, vegetable mélange, red wine sauce.

Beverly’s dish goes over well. Kim won’t stop talking, even though we’re not at her house anymore. At least she’s an expert. Ty-Umlaut’s dish is dry and sloppy, so…not great. Heather’s lamb is overcooked. Oh no! Will one of the Bosom Buddies have to go home?! Nyesha’s bloody-looking plate freaks out the dumb, platinum-blonde woman who has yet to say something intelligent.

At House Dessert, Hot Chris is concerned that his plate is clunky. Dakota wants her pudding to be creamier. Don’t we all.

DAKOTA banana and reese’s peanut butter cup bread pudding, banana mousse, date-banana milkshake.

HOT CHRIS banana-custard-filled strawberry cupcake, chocolate icing, mint chocolate chip ice cream.

ED cardamom-scented panna cotta, cantaloupe consommé, basil-pudding-stuffed raspberries.

GRAYSON chocolate sponge cake, caramelized bananas, chocolate-covered pretzel bits.

Dumb lady thought Ed’s panna cotta was too jiggly. Luckily, Kim the expert is there to let everyone know that it tastes “fancy.” Grayson’s dish was too rich for the rich people. Hot Chris got both positive and negative reviews. Tom hated Hot Chris’s cupcake, but I’m guessing Tom hates all cupcakes.

OMG, Stew Room Time! Padma comes in with the [probably good] news that they would like to see Sarah, Grayson, Paul, and Dakota. Because they made the judges’ favorite dishes, of course! But who’s the real winner? Paul! For his risky, but focused, dish that catered to what the clients wanted. Paul returns to the Room of Lesser Beings to announce that Chuy, Ty-Umlaut, Hot Chris, and Ugly Chris suck, so they have to go get yelled at. The judges tell Hot Chris that he made too much stuff, while Ty-Umlaut did not get the proportions right. And as expected, they tell Chuy that his salmon was overcooked, and his cheese was mealy. Ugly Chris also gets called out by John Besh for being gimmicky. So while all of these chefs had major issues with their dishes, ultimately it is CHUY who must pack his knives (only to take them out again later). Oh snap! That kind of sucks because, while he is a little smug, he is also a little crazy. And I’m gonna miss crazy Chuy.

But wait! There’s still Last Chance Kitchen! It’s Chuy versus Keith. Right off the bat, they head to Boner’s Bolner’s meat market, and the butcher there gives them each a huge slab of his meat to take back. Then Tom, aka the “Puff Daddy of Steak” tells them that their challenge is to butcher five bone-in rib eye steaks, and then to cook one of them medium-rare. They have 45 minutes. This is my favorite type of challenge. Just totally stripped down to nothing but technique. No bullshit like cooking in a cornfield.

When it comes time to judge, Puff Daddy is only moderately pleased with Keith’s butchery, and he points out some uneven cooking on Keith’s steak. Tom doesn’t like that Chuy removed the fat cap from his steaks, but he cooked his steak quite well. And while it is a close race, Chuy pulls away with the win because Diddy can’t overlook uneven cooking. On to cook another day in the Redemption Island Last Chance Kitchen!

NEXT WEEK: They’re cooking at a “quintessential” Dallas ranch. Lindsay’s freakin’ about some steaks. Then we see some bone marrow and…Ty-Umlaut walking to a hospital. Why won’t someone help this man?! Also, Beverly is slow. Oh Beverly! And the guest judge wants his money back.

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